What joints can commonly cause spinal pain?
Facet joints are small joints at the back of your spine. There are two joints at each vertebral level, one on the left and one on the right. Facet joints are a common source of spinal pain. At the base of your spine the sacrum joins the pelvis (ilium), forming the two sacroiliac joints. These can also be a source of spinal pain.
What are diagnostic injections?
Diagnostic injections are performed to try and find out if your pain is coming from your facet or sacroiliac joints. Injections of local anaesthetic are performed either directly into the joint or onto the nerves that supplies the joint, known as the medial or lateral branch nerve. Usually a long-?acting steroid is also injected at the same time.
What should I expect?
If your pain is coming from the suspected joints, you should expect some relief. If your pain is coming from another source then you should expect no relief. Will it hurt? All injections are performed with an anaesthetist present to provide sedation, so the procedure itself is comfortable.
How long will the relief last?
The local anaesthetic will only last a few hours. Long-?acting steroids often take a few days before they start to work and may last a few weeks. Remember, the main purpose of the injections is to diagnose the source of your pain.
What are the risks?
The needle used is very small but may cause a bruise. There is also a risk of infection either at the skin or deeper within the joint, which may cause fever or worsening pain. Occasionally the local anaesthetic may temporarily block a nerve going to either your arm or leg, causing weakness or numbness.
How should I prepare?
Make sure you fully understand the procedure, including the reason it is being performed and the risks associated. Make sure you have an appointment with your Pain Specialist within the next couple of weeks and make a note of what effect the injections have on your pain. There are additional requirements to allow sedation to be safely given. These include having nothing to eat or drink for six hours prior to your procedure and having a responsible adult to look after you for 24 hours following your procedure. In addition you should not drive or make important decisions for the first 24 hours following your procedure. If you take medications for Diabetes or blood-?thinning medications ensure you discuss this with your Pain Specialist to seek further instructions.
What happens next?
If the pain relief provided by the diagnostic injections was meaningful (even if only for a few hours), then you may be suitable for radiofrequency denervation to the same joints. This is a needle-?based day procedure that may provide meaningful pain relief for several months. Please discuss this with your Pain Specialist and review the appropriate information sheet for further details.
Please contact Wesley Pain Management or visit wapm.com.au